Guide

Manage your registered trade mark

Using other people's trade marks

Registering a trade mark gives the trade mark owner certain rights. These rights are backed up by law. It is very important that you respect these rights, or you could find yourself in legal difficulties over trade mark infringement.

Risk of trade mark infringement

You must not use someone else's registered trade mark for your own product or service, or use similar words or a logo which might confuse the customer.

The owner of the trade mark may take civil action. Criminal proceedings could also take place if sufficient evidence exists that you have intentionally used someone else's trade mark. Infringement could lead to a fine, prison or both.

Read more about enforcing your trade mark and intellectual property crime and your business.

Getting permission to use other people's trade marks

If you wish to use an existing trade mark, you should first contact the current owner. You can find the owner of a registered trade mark by searching the trade marks database.

You can usually get permission to use someone else's trade mark by:

  • buying the rights from them
  • licensing it from them

If you buy a trade mark, you must notify the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) of the change of ownership.

If you license a trade mark, you must agree the term of the licence and, again, notify the IPO of your licensing agreement.

Find out more about licensing and using someone else's trade marks.

If you use other people's trade marks in the course of your business - eg in your own product literature or manuals - you should acknowledge the ownership by using an appropriate phrase. Where you use several trade marks, you can make a general acknowledgement of ownership.